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(Archived) My love-hate relationship with Evernote.

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I have been using Evernote on my Mac, Web and iPhone for quite a while now and it has become an integral part of my workflow and here are the problems I would like to see addressed.

Evernote is loaded with great features but incredibly behind the curve on usability.

Its extremely easy to get info into Evernote, but difficult to access it again when you need it.

I believe part of the usability issue boils down to the filing vs piling method.

Piling seems to be the preferred method of people who lack organizational skills, they live in piles of papers. Which is a great selling point to people who need to a way to control their clutter. They are used to piling stuff in a corner of their desk and having a way to search through it is a godsend for them. Unfortunatly Evernote's piling system really only gives a semblance of control and for everyone else not organizationally challenged, its an exercise in frustration.

Some usability problems I have, most of which are mostly minor annoyances but add up to a frustrating experience are:

Lack of folders for notes organization, really the most frustrating thing about this app. Which really wouldn't be an issue if the tagging system worked just a little more elegantly.

Tags need to be separated from the sidebar and to moved to another location, preferably another sidebar on the right. The current sidebar is one giant scrolling list The prime reason for folders is the ability to manage long lists like that. I just have a small database and only a handful of tags, I can't imagine what someone with a more intense workflow has to go through. To make matters worse, every time I click on a saved search it expands that tags list even after I have collapsed it.

Need a way to move the sidebar items around to suit the user. I would prefer saved searches at the top of the list. This option could replace folders entirely if they were easy to access and worked properly. Having to scroll through a very long list of notes, tags and attributes all the way to the bottom to access my most frequently used searches is not fun.

Starring or flagging notes and being able to sort them to the top of the list. I have been adding a "-" to the begining of my notes so they get priority but thats a janky workaround for something that is a feature in just about every major organizational app these days.

Search should default automatically to "all notebooks" then allow the user to click on tags or notebooks to refine search. That annoyance is the one I encounter the most and breaks my flow every time!

While displaying found search terms, hi-light the searched text, not dim the rest of the page, its like evernote is pulling the search terms right out of context rather than emphasizing them. This is the first app I have seen use that technique and I don't know why it gets on my nerves but it does.

Attributes search option for notes without any tags that slip through the cracks. I have lost a lot of good notes in the "pile" because of that.

Undo from trash, if you delete a note by accident, good luck finding it again as it get shuffled into a big trash pile. At least let me select the trash and search it. Or add a secondary date to the trash items so I can sort them by last deleted. Again this is a problem with the piling method, I am a deleter, I like to keep everything neat and tidy and organized so I clear out my no longer used notes. Evernote appears to be designed for the get them and forget them hoarders who don't mind notes piling up in some hidden database so long as they don't have to see them.

Ability to group some notes together and zip them up and archive them away.. not just individual notes, but whole notebooks with all data intact.

When I am done with a project I would like to zip it up as a group of notes and then export the whole thing to my hard drive and delete it from evernote to clear up the search index from notes I no longer need and obviously a way to import those exported notebooks again if needed.

I am currently using an un-synced "archive" notebook for this purpose, but then I can't do an all notebook search without getting a bunch of stuff I don't want and some notes are still grouped with tags I no longer need.

Paste without formatting button in the context menu, or easily accessible button. I have been using this option more lately because it seems editing notes is still a little wonky from time to time which is understandable since evernote accepts a variety of different formats into its notes. With that in mind, I'd like the option of being able to also strip the formating from sections of a note as well.

Firefox grab jpg of entire page to a note, like the safari plugin does. Its the only reason I use safari, which is another redundant step.

I'd also like the option to email notes from the desktop app through Evernote servers as the web version does. I like the convenience of the desktop app but I primarily use gmail, I hate having to set up a local email client to send notes, another redundancy.

Check boxes for tasks lists would be great if they scaled size with the text. They are so tiny on my iphone I can barely "check" them.

I would like to see several videos or a guide really explaining some ways people are actually using evernote in their workflow. I've seen the things showing the many ways you can easily get your info into evernote, but not so much on how people use evernote to access and process those notes when they need them.

The list of things I like about evernote are just about as long. Evernote shines so brightly in some areas that these annoyances tarnish an otherwise excellent product. What evernote does right it does well, I am just mostly annoyed at the wasted potential more than anything else. I know these problems will be likely be addressed eventually, I just hope its sooner than later.

You know after taking the time to write all these things down, I am beginning to realize I have an unhealthy dysfunctional love-hate relationship with evernote. I have to wonder, if a program is this frustrating and difficult to use then why am I bothering? I just wish I didn't feel like I am being driven away because I am an organized person who appreciates the access to the many great features that evernote allows, but I just can't ignore its glaring faults.

And to those people that are happy and think everything is fine just the way it is, what I am advocating is for OPTIONS.

For an app that is as complex as this one is, it has the most sparse preferences/options I have seen.

Options never hurt anyone.. just like I have the option to stop using evernote altogether and live back in the dark ages! and that is NOT and option.

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I found myself either shaking my head yes or vocally saying yes each time you made a new suggestion. I thought about responding inline to your post, but what's the point? I agree with everything you suggested as an enhancement to EN. I find myself totally frustrated with the left sidebar. I keep thinking I must not have my database setup efficiently because I'm constantly scrolling through the bar to get to the tags/attributes/notebooks that I need. Your post made me realize I shouldn't think that way - maybe it's the sidebar that's setup inefficiently. I'm the user - I should be able to configure this in a way that works for me.

We've been asking for a way to "pin" notes for a long time... I can't believe the developers wouldn't want and/or use that feature as well. They use it in these forums to pin important topics - what is the difference then in needing to pin an important note? I know, I know - we can tag it "important" and have access to it that way - but then I have to scroll thru that sidebar to find the "important" tag.

I couldn't agree more with you on your issues with dimming text in a note to show the found search term. In order for me to read the note, I then have to click inside the note to remove the mask. Why? Like you said, why not hi-light the search terms rather than dim everything else. Not good for workflow. (It's sorta like Vista - I click on an application to open it and I get the box that asks if I'm sure I want to start the app. Here, I search for the term and then I'm "asked" if I'm sure I want to read the note.)

I have to admit - I was a very reluctant migrant from version 2 to version 3. Now that I'm here and have used it, I use it more than ever, thanks mostly to the fact that I can access it from so many clients. There's good and bad to that though. Because I'm using it more, I'm getting more frustrated with EN. The points made in the OP really speak to my frustrations.

I'm with you - options are good. EN does an incredible job at giving us options for what we can put in our db. They do a great job at giving us options for how we can pull it out. Please give us good options for how we can organize all those options.

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Some advice: A 1,200 word rant causes most forum-users' eyes to glaze over. Either send a formal multi-page letter to Evernote directly or use the forum by sticking to one topic at a time.

I agree with you - your comments are, as you described them "mostly minor annoyances".

For instance:

"incredibly behind the curve on usability" - Come on! Behind the curve? So there are dozens of similar programs that are more usable? I seriously doubt that. The current 1.5 million Evernote users can't be that ignorant of the marketplace.

"if the tagging system worked just a little more elegantly" - another one of those minor annoyances?

"Having to scroll through a very long list of notes, tags and attributes all the way to the bottom to access my most frequently used searches is not fun." - well, then store your frequently used searches in a note for easy access.

If you follow the basic guideline of a user-forum and use one topic per post, you will get better results.

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efforting,

Very perceptive list - I agree with most of what you have on there, and I don't think they're just "minor annoyances." Cumulatively, they can make the difference between a program that saves time and improves your computer use, or one that takes time and slows you down (and that you eventually abandon). I hope EN takes notice.

A couple of items that you list, however, are actually pretty well implemented already in my opinion - at least on Windows, which I note is not your platform:

Starring or flagging notes and being able to sort them to the top of the list.

In Windows, at least, I add a Tags column to my list view. I have a tag called ".Quickref". If I click on the Tags column header, it sorts by tag, which puts all my .Quickref tags at the top of the list. Alternately, of course, I can just click on the .Quickref tag in the tag bar and see the same notes.

Attributes search option for notes without any tags that slip through the cracks. I have lost a lot of good notes in the "pile" because of that.

There is a search syntax for this. I can't remember what it is offhand, but you can find it in the user manual. I have it saved as a saved search called "untagged notes".

Ability to group some notes together and zip them up and archive them away.. not just individual notes, but whole notebooks with all data intact.

Is there no Export in the Mac version? Maybe i'm not getting what you're asking for, but in Windows, you can export an entire folder to a file on your hard drive. It preserves everything. Then you can delete the folder from Evernote.

Finally, I am going to disagree with you on one point:

And to those people that are happy and think everything is fine just the way it is, what I am advocating is for OPTIONS.

For an app that is as complex as this one is, it has the most sparse preferences/options I have seen.

Options never hurt anyone.. just like I have the option to stop using evernote altogether and live back in the dark ages! and that is NOT and option.

Too many options can definitely hurt software. Check out MS Word sometime. It's called bloat, and it's the number one usability problem in Windows software. So be careful what you wish for.

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I think one should post anyway one likes...then if it's SOO tedious for a reader when confronted with the big topic, move on to another post..

( forum 'police' bug me )...

Furthermore the whole point was a that it was a summary of many minor items, which implies a longer post. Sometimes (not always ) the big picture needs to be painted.

Btw, As much as I love EN, the points by thread author are exactly how I feel about much of my Evernote experience. I can provide at least 3 examples where searching mechanisms of large databases are way more efficient than EN....both on desktop, and Iphone....(if U really want, lol)

Some advice: A 1,200 word rant causes most forum-users' eyes to glaze over. Either send a formal multi-page letter to Evernote directly or use the forum by sticking to one topic at a time.

I agree with you - your comments are, as you described them "mostly minor annoyances".

For instance:

"incredibly behind the curve on usability" - Come on! Behind the curve? So there are dozens of similar programs that are more usable? I seriously doubt that. The current 1.5 million Evernote users can't be that ignorant of the marketplace.

"if the tagging system worked just a little more elegantly" - another one of those minor annoyances?

"Having to scroll through a very long list of notes, tags and attributes all the way to the bottom to access my most frequently used searches is not fun." - well, then store your frequently used searches in a note for easy access.

If you follow the basic guideline of a user-forum and use one topic per post, you will get better results.

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rocky said:

I think one should post anyway one likes...then if it's SOO tedious for a reader when confronted with the big topic, move on to another post..

( forum 'police' bug me )...

The purpose of a forum is to solve problems and share ideas.

Trolls, ranters, and spammers do neither.

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I think efforting's post is valid and reasonably expressed. I read nothing in it that qualifies it as a rant, spam or trolling. It's long but that's the OP's option IMHO.

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